Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Is Cyberpunk Making a Comeback?

Posted on | August 23, 2010 | No Comments

    . . . I concocted cyberspace by sitting at a manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper and writing a bunch of words with I think. . . double-spaced capital letters. . hyperspace. . . other there. . . . you know horrible, like horrible things that would never stick and then I typed cyberspace, and I thought oh, you know.. that’s kind of sexy. . . . [1]
    – William Gibson interviewed in the Canadian documentary Cyberscribe (1993)

The word is that Splice (2009) director, Vincenzo Natali, is set to direct the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson. Known also for the 1997 movie The Cube, Natali has picked up the rights to Neuromancer and is working with Gibson to bring it to the screen.

vincenzo natali to direct neuromancer

Before the Web, We had Cyberspace

By the late 1980’s, the notion of “cyberspace” began to circulate in discussions about the future of the world’s telecommunications networks. Its meaning was in some contention but it no doubt referred to both the new network technologies and accelerating computing abilities of the new electronic microprocessors that began to combine to form the world’s new telecommunications grid, a dynamic multitrillion dollar infrastructure opening up the electronic “frontier” as the railroads and telegraph opened up the American west.

Cyberspace was often connected with the new “virtual reality” technologies of the time, especially as they came to support diverse participants sharing an electronic computer-generated environment through the use of the new networks. This conception arose because author William Gibson produced the term to describe what he called the electronic “consensual hallucination” in which the characters immersed themselves in his award-winning novel Neuromancer. In his fictional narrative, “console cowboys” connect to the network by “jacking in,” linking into the electronic telecommunications “matrix” via electronic velcro-held “trodes” attached to their heads. Somewhat like a flight simulator, the user experiences a vast simulated space scattered with geometric shapes representing institutional databanks such as the “green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America.”

Admittedly that sounds quite weak given the “virtual” reality of recent games like Halo or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 not to Second Life or or the military simulations used these days, but it helped sparked imaginations at the time and changed the culture of telecommunications from one dominated by telephone company engineers and Washington DC lawyers to the promise of the web and creative imaginations tech-savvy multimedia designers and entrepreneurs of the 1990s and the zeroes.

It will be interesting to see if Vincenzo Natali can pull off Neuromancer and if it will come out a bit better than Gibson’s other ideation, the Keanu Reeves vehicle, Johnny Mnemonic.



[1] Quote from Cyberscribe (1991) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Production. By Producer/Director Frances-Mary Morrison, Editor Jacques Milette.
[2] Image from




Anthony J. Pennings, PhD recently joined the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University in Austin TX, after ten years on the faculty of New York University.


Leave a Reply

  • Referencing this Material

    Copyrights apply to all materials on this blog but fair use conditions allow limited use of ideas and quotations. Please cite the permalinks of the articles/posts.
    Citing a post in APA style would look like:
    Pennings, A. (2015, April 17). Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption. Retrieved from
    MLA style citation would look like: "Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption." Anthony J. Pennings, PhD. Web. 18 June 2015. The date would be the day you accessed the information. View the Writing Criteria link at the top of this page to link to an online APA reference manual.

  • About Me

    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

    You can reach me at:

    Follow apennings on Twitter

  • Traffic Feed

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • RSS – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

    • Untitled
      It's been five years since NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover landed on the red planet on August 6, 2012. The rover survived the much-publicized "seven minutes of terror" and safely landed near Mount Sharp. The rover accomplished its main goal in less than a year, collecting a rock sample that shows ancient Mars could supported living […]
    • Japan is building the fastest supercomputer in the world
      Japan is building the world's fastest supercomputer, which it hopes will make the country the new global hub for artificial intelligence research.
    • Untitled
      Ingrem, a Chinese company has created the "husband pod," an arcade booth intended to stave off boredom for men who accompany their partners to the mall.
    • Untitled
      Scientists have figured out how to grow organs from skin cells. CNN's Rachel Crane explores a lab that is using this technique to revolutionize cancer treatments.
    • Untitled
      A security robot named Steve plunged down four steps into a fountain in Washington, leading to its watery demise.
  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul    
  • Crossword of the Day

  • Disclaimer

    The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers, past or present.